Tag Archives: Publishers

In Today’s Music Biz, Songwriters Must Have THIS Skill

Hit music publisher, Dan Hodges of Dan Hodges Music, was our most recent Play For A Publisher guest, and he dropped a HUGE value-bomb on us!

It was just too good and too important to keep to ourselves, so I decided to share it.  If you want to become a pro songwriter, read on!

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To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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At Songwriting Pro’s most recent “Play For A Publisher” event, Dan Hodges was asked about the importance to a publisher of a songwriter being able to play, sing, record their own demos, etc.

His answer was surprising.

Here’s basically (paraphrased) what Dan told us.

In the 1990’s, it was really important for a songwriter to be able to write solo.  That way, you could put that writer in the room with anybody (or nobody), and you were confident that he or she could come out with a good song.

But these days, it’s different.

Now, Dan places a big value on work ethic.  Is the writer a hard worker?  Does he or she show up consistency, putting in the effort and the hours?

Then Dan hit us with something surprising.

It’s really important that the writer is a good hang.  A publisher is always looking to network, and it’s very important that the writer is LIKABLE.  Just like in the ’90’s, when publishers wanted a writer who could go into a room with anyone and come out with a good song, these days, they often want a writer who can go into a room with anyone and come out with a good RELATIONSHIP.

The social aspect of the music business is vitally important.

He told us the story of one of his songwriters.  According to Dan, this writer is a very positive person.  He just makes everyone around him feel good.  This writer recently landed a #1 hit country song, which he cowrote with the artist.

Basically, as Dan explains it, his writer got a #1 not only because he is a good writer, but the artist enjoyed writing with him.  They became friends, and after that relationship garnered 30 or so songs, one of them landed on the artist’s debut album.  It was released as a single, and eventually hit #1.

Now Dan’s songwriter has a #1 hit to go with his winning, positive personality.

Now, here’s my (Brent’s) take on that.

I know some writers who hate to hear these kinds of stories.  They hate to think of the music business as “high school all over again” or a “popularity contest” where only the “cool kids” get the attention.

That’s a loser mentality, and you can’t afford to think that way.  

(Those are my words, not Dan’s, just so we’re clear.)

The music business is FULL of writers with a ton of talent.  It’s full of writers with a good work ethic.  And there are a lot of writers trying to get into the biz who also work hard and have talent.

Bringing a good hang can be worth as much as bringing a good hook.

Why?  Because being a good hang can get you in the room again and again.  Yes, you need the talent.  But once the talent-bar has been cleared, the artist (or hit writer) still has more potential cowriters than they have time for.  So…

What’s going to get YOU in that room instead of someone else?

Be a good hang.  Be likable.  Be someone other people want to be around.

Like it or not, personality matters.  People just have too many options to be stuck spending their time with people they don’t like.

If an artist or cowriter doesn’t HAVE to write with you, it’s your job to make them WANT to write with you.

 

I want YOU to join me at the next Play For A Publisher event- and get great advice and feedback on YOUR song in person! (No matter where you live.)

If you’re ready to connect with a publisher, I have a path for YOU and YOUR great song to get to a real, legit, successful music publisher, no matter where in the world you live.  That’s right- it’s all online, so you can join us from anywhere!

On Thursday, December 14, I’m having the next round of Songwriting Pro’s “Play For A Publisher.” Our guest is John Ozier of ole Music.  John has had his hand in a bunch of hits, but the deadline to submit your song is coming up THIS MONTH!  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

Advice For Songwriters From Hit Music Publisher, Dan Hodges

Hit music publisher, Dan Hodges of Dan Hodges Music, was our most recent Play For A Publisher guest.  And, boy, did he have some great advice for our songwriters!

Wanna know what he said? Read on!

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To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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If you couldn’t make it to the event or watch the replay, here’s some of the great advice Dan had for us.

Put yourself in the artist’s shoes.  With every song, ask yourself, “If I were an artist on a label, would I want to sing this song every night, saying ‘This is me.  This is who I am.’?”

Go with what you know.  Trends change, but a great story and a melody are always relevant.  Sam Hunt’s “Breakup In A Small Town” may have progressive production, but it still has some brilliant lines (especially the one about the grass growing back where she used to park her car).  That’s great writing.

Show me a “moment” in your song.  Create a moment or paint a picture that draws the listener in.  Avoid having too many generic lines.  Get something tangible in there.

Don’t make the listener connect too many dots.  Country music is a very spelled-out market.  Don’t make the listener work too hard to understand what you’re talking about.

Regarding how progressive a country demo can get:  Anything goes.  Just keep the lyric a country lyric.  But the demo can get “out there.”

Is there an advantage to working with a publisher?  Yes, Dan says.  A publisher will hook up cowrites and help you with networking.  You must have artist/producer relationships, and a good publisher will have those.

Stay away from curse words in a country lyric.  It makes it harder for the song to get cut.

Don’t put the singer in a negative light.  They have to sing the song every night and “become” the character in the song.  Make the main character in the song someone the artist WANTS to be.

I want YOU to join me at the next Play For A Publisher event- and get feedback on YOUR song in person! (No matter where you live.)

If you’re ready to connect with a publisher, I have a path for YOU and YOUR great song to get to a real, legit, successful music publisher, no matter where in the world you live.

On Thursday, December 14, I’m having the next round of Songwriting Pro’s “Play For A Publisher.” Our guest is John Ozier of ole Music.  John has had his hand in a bunch of hits, but the deadline to submit your song is coming up quickly!  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

4 Reasons A Music Publisher Won’t Meet With You (And 1 Thing You Can Do To Change That)

For many songwriters (and possibly you), trying to get a publisher meeting is like trying to get a date with a supermodel.  You know they exist, you cyber-stalk them as best you can… but you can’t find one who will give you the time of day.

Why is it so dang hard to get a publisher meeting?

Here are 4 reasons a publisher won’t meet with you- and one thing you can do to change that.

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To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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1. Knock, knock… Math.

Publishers simply don’t have enough time to meet with every songwriter who wants some of their time.  Math just dictates that there aren’t enough hours in the workday for every “quick 15 minute meeting” that is asked of them.

Unfortunately, publishers just can’t get to everyone.

Oh, and math also says that the vast majority of songwriters just aren’t good enough to solve the publisher’s problems.  The odds are actually better that you’ll either be needy or crazy and add to their problems.

2. You made a bad (personal) 1st impression.

Maybe the publisher met you out at an event… or the grocery store… and you gave off a creepy vibe when you shoved your CD into her cart alongside her avocados.  Or maybe you reached out through social media and she saw that post where you ranted about how much radio sucks and the songs suck and the artists suck.  Now the publisher has no desire to give you a 2nd chance to make a worse impression.

Yes, unpleasant people might still have a great song.  But a publisher is looking for something more valuable than just one great song.  She’s looking for a great songwriter she can have hits with for years to come.

If the publisher doesn’t like being around you for 5 minutes, she’s sure not excited about being around you for 5 years.

3. You made a bad (musical) 1st impression.

Let’s say a publisher was out at the Bluebird Cafe or The Listening Room to hear one of his writers, and you were in the early round.  If your songs just aren’t exciting to him (too slow, too cliche, too boring, whatever), he’s not going to be in a hurry to sit down with you for a half-hour.

There’s just not a compelling business interest for him to NOT meet with someone else so he CAN meet with you.  After all, publishers know writers tend to play their best stuff out.  So if that’s your best, he doesn’t need to hear any more- at least not until after you’ve worked on your craft for a few more years.

4. The publisher doesn’t know you exist.

Literally.  How can a publisher agree to meet with you if you’ve never stepped into her awareness?  If you and your songs never leave your bedroom in Boise, that publisher meeting is simply NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.  You have to get over your fear or whatever and DO SOMETHING.

Or maybe you’re ready to do something, but you just don’t know the steps to take.  How do you approach a real-deal music publisher in a way that gets his or her attention in a positive way?  Do you have to belong to some sort of private club?  Is there a secret handshake?

Let me introduce you to a legit music publisher.

If you’re ready to connect with a publisher, I have a path for YOU and YOUR great song to get to a real, legit, successful music publisher.

On Thursday, December 14, I’m having the next round of Songwriting Pro’s “Play For A Publisher.” Our guest is John Ozier of ole Music.  John has had his hand in a bunch of hits, but the deadline to submit your song is coming up quickly!  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

Congratulations! You already have a music publisher!

“How do I get a publisher?”

“Do I need a publisher?”

“How do I connect with a publisher?”

Those are common questions that songwriters ask me on a regular basis.  And I’ve worked to answer those questions.

Maybe you’re asking the same questions right now. And we’ll get to that. But first, I want to remind you of one very important fact… You ALREADY have a music publisher.. .

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To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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“Uh…” you might be thinking… “I don’t remember signing a publishing deal. And I know for sure that the check for my advance hasn’t shown up in my mailbox.” True enough. But it doesn’t change the truth.

Your current music publisher is… YOU.

Here in the United States (I can’t speak for other countries), the copyright law is clear. You own the copyright of your song as soon as you put it in a fixed form. In other words, as soon as you write it down, sing it into your phone, or YouTube yourself singing it, you (and your cowriters) own the copyright.

Owning the copyright makes you the publisher.

You’re the publisher, even if you don’t have a company name registered with your PRO. Even if you haven’t registered your copyright with the Copyright Office. Even if you’ve never gotten a cut. Even if you’re not pitching your songs.

You are your own publisher. Even if you don’t act like it.

Now, am I saying that you need to run out, hire a songplugger and sign some writers? Of course not. I realize you’re probably not in that position. We’re each at different points along the journey. Maybe your journey includes landing a publishing deal. Maybe not. But I do know that if you want to be a pro songwriter, you need to treat it like what it is – a business. You need to own that fact.

The sooner you “own” your success, the sooner you will earn your success.

If you own your success – if you take responsibility for it – you might not need an outside publisher to “make it happen” for you. On the other hand, if you never own your success, there’s probably not a publisher out there who CAN “make it happen” for you.

So, what’s the next step for YOU in your success? Is it registering your personal publishing company with a PRO? Is it writing that next song (even though you’re crazy busy)? Or is it connecting with a publisher?

If you ARE ready to connect with a publisher, then… I’m happy to offer a potential path for YOU and YOUR song to get to a real, successful music publisher.

I’m hosting the next round of Songwriting Pro’s “Play For A Publisher” soon!  We have these awesome events- with legit hit music publishers- every quarter, and the deadline to submit your song is coming up quickly!  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

Here’s are 10 ways you can get a music publisher’s attention!

There are a lot of things standing in between you and a legit music publisher.  Gatekeepers and distance are just a few.

But I have good news!  Here are 10 ways to connect to a music publisher.

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To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

_________________________________

1. The unsolicited request.

This is the only easy path on the list- and it’s the one I don’t really recommend. This is where you just put in a cold call or email to a publisher and ask for a meeting. It has a very low success rate (you’re lucky to get a response at all), and there are better strategies available.

2. The professional recommendation.

Publishers listen to people in their peer group. If you can get recommended by another publisher, an A&R rep, a professional songwriter, etc., it will go a long way toward getting you in the room. Your best bet for a recommendation from an industry pro is making a fan of someone at NSAI, Global Songwriters Connection (GSC), or another songwriting organization.

3. The personal relationship.

Do you have a relative or friend anywhere in the music biz? Leverage your personal contacts. It isn’t cheating- nobody gets here alone.

4. The business relationship.

When I first got to Nashville, I got a part-time job at a publishing company. As I got to know our administrative clients- patiently, over time- I was able to approach them about listening to my songs.

5. The PRO recommendation.

A PRO is a Performing Rights Organization. In the US, we have ASCAP, SESAC, and BMI. Each PRO has writers reps who spend part of their time meeting with writers. If, over the course of several meetings, you can make a rep a believer in your music, they might hook you up with some publishers. They can’t do that for everyone, so don’t expect it. Every time they recommend a writer, they risk some of their professional credibility.

6. The Play-For-Publisher event.

Organizations like NSAI and GSC have events where their members can play one (I repeat- one) song for a Music Row publisher. If you or your song knock their socks off, it might open a door. You don’t always have to be in Nashville to participate in these events, so check their websites for details.

www.nashvillesongwriters.com      www.globalsongwriters.com

7. The staffwriter cowrite.

It’s not easy to get a cowrite with a pro writer, obviously. However, if you write a killer song with a staffwriter, their publisher is likely to ask who you are. If they love what you write with their writer, they will probably be open to hearing more of your stuff.

8. The industry function.

If you meet a publisher out at a writers night, workshop, etc., be patient. Don’t get all excited and shove a CD in his face or beg her for a meeting. Try to connect in a real way on a personal level. Make a connection, not just a contact. There are a lot of crazies out there, and a publisher will usually need to sniff you out a few times before they’re up for a meeting.

9. The major cut.

I wasn’t getting much publisher love till I got (and owned the publishing on) my Alan Jackson cut. Suddenly, I had a skeleton key to just about every publisher’s door on Music Row.

10. The artist buzz.

The value of the writer/artist has skyrocketed over the past few years. If you’re getting buzz around town as a potential artist, that goes a long way toward getting a publisher’s attention. Even if you aren’t a great writer, they know they can always hook you up with great writers.

I know at this point, you might be more frustrated than you were five minutes ago.  It’s just not easy to get to a music publisher.  However, I am happy to offer a potential path for YOU and YOUR song to get to a real, successful music publisher.

I’m hosting the next round of Songwriting Pro’s “Play For A Publisher” soon!  We have these awesome events- with legit hit music publishers- every quarter, and the deadline to submit your song is coming up quickly!  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

There’s one thing better for songwriters than being “discovered!”

I’ve felt it.  Maybe you have, too.  It’s that rush of nerves and adrenaline as you sit across from a publisher, producer, or A&R rep as they listen to your song.

You’re on the edge of your seat with each line of your song, trying to read every little expression on their face for some clue of what might be coming next.  “The bridge!” you think, “If you just listen through the bridge, you’re gonna love it!”

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To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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Then the song ends… or they hit “stop.”  Moment of truth.  Do they love it?  Do they hate it?  Are you about to be discovered as a songwriter?  Is your life about to change?

It’s awesome if you get discovered.  What what if you don’t?

It’s frustrating.  I know it is.  (There’s a long list of publishers who didn’t “discover” me before “Monday Morning Church” went top 5.)  It’s easy to think of those meetings as missed opportunities.  But they aren’t.  There’s a hidden opportunity every time you play a song for a pro- even if they pass on it.

Don’t miss the opportunities that come with disappointments.

You have the opportunity to close your ears and your mind to anything the pro says.

You’re free to assume that just because they don’t love your song, they obviously don’t know what they’re talking about.  You also have the opportunity to become bitter, blaming your lack of success on “politics” or “tone deaf music executives.”  Obviously, I don’t recommend you take either of these opportunities.

You have the opportunity to learn where the songwriting bar is set.

You thought your song was there, but now you know you have to elevate your craft.  Just knowing you have to get better is a HUGE gift.  Don’t miss it.

You have the opportunity to display professionalism.

Don’t turn “I don’t love your song” into “I’m never meeting with you again.”  Don’t get angry or defensive or try to talk the pro into liking your song.  They’ll just end up disliking your song AND you.  Instead, be courteous, respectful, and thankful.  Accept any feedback with grace and humility.  That will go a long way towards making you likable.  And if the pro likes you, you have a better chance of getting another meeting.

You have the opportunity to learn and get better.

Too many songwriters are so focused on getting discovered that they miss the chance to get better.  It’s a mistake to tune out once you realize the pro doesn’t love your song.  Sometimes, they’ll give you little reasons why they’re passing on your song.  Or they’ll tell you something they like about it.  Or maybe, they’ll go in depth with their feedback.

But how do you connect with a legitimate music publisher and take advantage of these opportunities?  Well, you’re in luck!

I’m hosting the next round of Songwriting Pro’s “Play For A Publisher” soon!  We have these awesome events- with legit hit music publishers- every quarter, and the deadline to submit your song is coming up quickly!  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

5 Reasons You Might Not Need A Music Publisher

With the number of available publishing deals shrinking (along with royalty income), with more and more artists writing their own songs in “camps,” and with home recording getting better and cheaper… do songwriters still need publishers?

Well… the short answer is… it depends.

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To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

_________________________________

Here’s why you DON’T need a publisher.

1. You aren’t trying to get other artists to record your songs.

You write for yourself, family and friends.  You aren’t actively pursuing commercial success.  If it somehow happens… whatever.  But you aren’t chasing it.  Or you’re the artist and record your own songs.

2. You have your own pitch relationships.

You can get meetings with artists, A&R reps, and/or music producers.  Even if you can’t get meetings, you can at least email them songs- and you KNOW they’ll listen.  Or you are your own (signed) artist and write for yourself.  The point is, you can get your songs to someone who can say “yes.”

3. You’re self-funded.

You can cover your own demo expenses.  And you are in a financial situation that allows you the flexibility to write a lot.  In other words, you don’t need an advance (or draw) from a publisher.

4. You can do your own publishing administration.

You either outsource your publishing admin, or you’re able to do the business side yourself.  You know how to copyright, register, and license your songs that do get cut.

5. You have your own cowriter relationships.

Publishers often help hook their writers up with high-level cowriters- or even artists.  If your networking and people skills are strong enough, you can do this yourself.

So there you go.  Five reasons you might not need a publisher.  Sound like you?  Awesome!  But if not…

You might need a publisher… when your songs are good enough.

But how do you connect with a legitimate music publisher?  Well, you’re in luck- I have a great opportunity coming up for you.

I’m hosting the next round of Songwriting Pro’s “Play For A Publisher” soon!  We have these awesome events- with legit hit music publishers- every quarter, and the deadline to submit your song is coming up quickly!  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

Do Music Publishers ONLY Want To Hear Fully-Produced Demos?

When trying to get a music publisher’s attention for cowrites or a publishing deal, how produced should my songs be?

Can I play a worktape (imperfections and all), a clean guitar/vocal or piano/vocal, or does it need to have a full band?

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To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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Well, like most things in the music biz, there’s no one right answer.  Think about your goal for the meeting.  If it’s just to get feedback to make your song better, a work tape is preferable.  The publisher will feel more free to make suggestions.  If you have a full demo, it’s more uncomfortable to suggest changes that might mean dropping another $800 on a new demo.

But if your goal is to be seen as a pro and treated as a pro, you want everything about you to be professional.  And that includes your song’s production.  So you want to play the most pro-sounding recordings you have, whether that’s a guitar/vocal, or just your best “one-take” iPhone worktape.

Even though I’m already seen as a pro in the biz, I only play demos or high-quality guitar/vocals for publishers when I’m first getting to know them.  Over time, I may feel more comfortable playing work tapes- but not at first.  At first I always want to put my best foot forward.

That being said, it’s important to start playing work tapes for a publisher as your relationship deepens and you’re talking about signing a deal.  I don’t want to write for a publisher who has to hear a full demo before he knows if the song is any good or not.  I want to be able to run into his office and play that day’s work tape and have him do backflips and yell, “we gotta demo that!”

Now, I’m not saying that you should stop trying to make publisher relationships until you’ve dropped a few grand on demos.  I’m not saying that.  Get feedback through other sources first (Songwriter Pro Coaching, NSAI, etc.).  That way you can figure out if your song is worth demoing.

Playing the demo of a bad song just tells the publisher that you don’t have the judgement to know NOT to demo a bad song – so you probably don’t know it’s even a bad song.  So save your money (and your reputation) till it’s ready.

So to break down playing a full demo for a publisher:

**If the song is amazing, the publisher can run right out the door and pitch it immediately.

**If the song is good, you look like that much more of a professional.

**If the song needs work, the publisher is less likely to suggest many changes.

**If the song is bad, you look like that much more of an amateur.

If your song- work tape or demo- is ready for a publisher… if you’re ready to get some honest, helpful feedback… or if you’re ready to knock a publisher’s socks off, I have a great opportunity coming up for you.

I’m hosting the next round of Songwriting Pro’s “Play For A Publisher” soon!  We have these awesome events- with legit hit music publishers- every quarter, and the deadline to submit your song is coming up quickly!  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

A Pro Songwriter’s Team

Man vs Row

Songwriting is a team sport. I’ve said that a thousand times if I’ve said it once. But, until now, I don’t guess I’ve written about who makes up a pro songwriter’s team. Well, here ya go. Not all of these members are necessary for every songwriter at every career stage. Some are only needed when money is being generated from your songs. So don’t get overwhelmed- you don’t have to find all these folks today.  

Also, this list is for pro songwriters or those who want to make money. If you just want to write good songs, pick and choose accordingly.

1. The Cowriters.

There are very, very few songwriters who turn pro (and stay that way) who are exclusively solo writers. Your cowriters help keep you fresh and break you out of creative ruts and stale habits. They also provide song ideas so you don’t have to come up with all your own ideas. Cowriters provide creative strengths to compliment your weaknesses (lyrics for your melodies, etc.) They share valuable information (who’s cutting, what they want, who’s about to get a record deal, etc.). They (and their publishers) help pitch your songs. They provide political advantages- writing with the artist, the producer, or with someone in a powerful publishing company.

Rise

2. The Songpluggers.

If you want cuts, somebody has to be out there actively pitching your songs and getting them heard by folks who can say “yes.” Oftentimes, this is done by a music publisher, who has at least one songplugger on staff. Many pros also pitch their songs themselves. I’m an “all hands on deck” kinda guy, so I like to have both when I can. People who might plug your songs: you, your publisher, a (legit) independent songplugger, your cowriters, your cowriters’ songpluggers. If nobody is plugging your songs, nobody will hear them. If nobody hears your songs, nobody will cut them.

3. The PROs.

Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) are basically companies who collect and distribute airplay royalties for publishers and songwriters. There are three PROs in the United States- ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Every other country / territory has only one. If you’re blessed to get some airplay, you and your song won’t get a dime of airplay money if you (and your song) aren’t registered with a PRO. That’s the big service they offer. Other benefits include networking and educational opportunities. EVERY money-making pro must have a PRO.

4. The Recorders.

All the songplugging in the world isn’t gonna do you much good if all your demos / recordings sound terrible. There’s just too much competition and too many quality demos out there for an A&R person to do the work to hear through a bad recording. They just don’t have to. Unless you’re an established hit songwriter with a good track record, they’ll just trash it and move on to a recording that sounds like it was done by a pro. It’s great if you have the musician and production chops to get good sound on your own. But most songwriters don’t have that, so it needs to be outsourced. Maybe your cowriters can perform this function, or maybe you hire a track guy or some studio musicians. I hesitated to list them as part of your team since they’re hired guns… but getting quality recordings is so important, I couldn’t keep them off the list.

Team Sport

5. The Administrators.

Somebody better be watching the money. Your administrators are the folks that make sure your songs are registered with a PRO, licensed properly by the record labels, the copyright forms are sent in and that your royalties make it (properly and promptly) from the record labels to the songwriters. This function is usually done by the publisher, but you can also hire an admin firm for a percentage of what they collect on your behalf. For example, my Major Bob Music catalog is partly administered in-house and partly by The Harry Fox Agency. My personal publishing company, Cowboy Chords Music, outsources my admin to Bluewater Music. They handle my licensing and royalty collections for a percentage of the money they collect.

6. The Sharpeners.

These are the folks who help you sharpen your skills, both on the artistic and business sides of songwriting. This may include cowriters who inspire and challenge you to do your best, it may include NSAI, Global Songwriters Connection, Man vs. Row, Frettie, song evaluators, and coaches. It may be your publisher or songplugger. It may be a writer’s rep at a PRO or a publisher who will listen to your songs and give feedback. The Sharpeners are hugely important for amateurs turning pro and for seasoned pros trying to keep current and to adapt as the commercial market changes. These are the folks who will tell us the truth and challenge us, even when it’s unpleasant.

7. The Believers.

Who’s going to pick you up when the biz knocks you down? When you’re lost in doubt? You’ll find The Believers in several of the other categories- The Cowriters, The Pluggers, and sometimes The PROS and The Sharpeners. The Believers may also include folks outside of music- your family and friends. This isn’t just for the aspiring songwriter. We ALL need The Believers. But the most important believer will always be one person. Yourself.

There ya go. A pro songwriter’s team. Like I said earlier, you may not need all these folks right now, depending on where you are in your career. But as you climb that mountain, you’ll add more and more of them.

What about you?  Would you add anyone else to “a pro songwriter’s team?” How’s your team-building coming along?  Leave a comment- I’d love to hear from you.

Pro songwriters know they need a team.  And if YOU want to become a pro, you need to think like a pro, too.  In my FREE e-book, “THINK LIKE A PRO SONGWRITER,” I not only reveal several of the mindsets which separate the pro songwriter from the amateur, but also…

  1. How to get on a music publisher’s radar
  2. How the pros know who is looking for songs
  3. Six simple ways to make your songs more commercial
  4. And more!

To get your FREE, INSTANT download of “THINK LIKE A PRO SONGWRITER,” just click on the image below, or CLICK HERE!

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God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

Man vs Row

A Quick Lesson On Publishing

Quick Tip

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

A publisher’s job is to get your songs recorded. They generally do this in return for the ownership, or copyright, of your song.  A publisher may sign you or your song.  If they just want one or two songs, they offer what is known as “single song agreements.”  That means they will pitch that one (or two) songs in exchange for the copyright.  You won’t get a monetary advance for this.

A publisher may offer to sign YOU, which is to say they may offer you a staff songwriting deal (aka a publishing deal).  Publishers usually pay their staff songwriters an advance against future earnings.  This advance (or “draw”) will be paid back by you as royalties come in from the songs that are part of your publishing deal.  Basically, the unrecouped advance money is withheld from your royalty check by the publisher until they are paid back.  You’ll continue to receive your advance, though.

If your deal ends with you still owing money toward the advance, you don’t have to write the publisher a check.  They will continue to collect any royalties on the songs they own until you’re recouped.

Publishers used to mainly help their writers by just pitching their songs.  However, in today’s country market, not too many outside songs are getting recorded.  The most successful publishers are acting more like the songwriter’s agent- helping the songwriter make good relationships with decision-makers and helping the songwriter get artist cowrites, etc.  It’s less about pitching a song than it is about putting the songwriter in the right room, giving them the best chance to succeed.

What about you?  What’s your experience been regarding publishers?  How do you see their role changing (or not changing) in the current music business?  Let us hear from you!

God Bless,

Brent

THE PRO KNOWS

To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro. In this complimentary report, learn the mindsets that help the pro songwriter get cuts, earn respect in the industry, and maintain long-term success in the music business. Just click on the picture below to download this complimentary report today!

The Pro Knows